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PI: O'Brien, Dominic

Department: Engineering Science (DF)

In free-space communications light from a transmitter is modulated to carry data. The modulated beam of light then passes through free space and is detected by an optical receiver. For the highest data rates, a narrow beam of light is preferred as a high proportion of the transmitted power can be received. As the beam is narrow, the transmitter needs to point the beam of light at the receiver and the receiver also needs to be pointed at the transmitter. In the COALESCE project, terminals with high-precision beamsteering were used to create a free-space optical data link over ~5 m between two optical fibres operating at 1Tbps.

The COALESCE project developed world-leading systems, and this IAA project aims to increase the impact of the beamsteering research by assembling a low-cost system suitable for mass deployment and then assessing their use in communications systems produced by Signify, a major manufacturer in this area. The low-cost beam-steering system will be based on a liquid crystal phase modulator technology that has been developed by the Soft-Matter Photonics group in the Department of Engineering Science through the support of an EPSRC-funded project.

The proposed work tackles the current barriers to deployment of LiFi and free space communications by using an intrinsically simpler and lower cost beamsteering technique ensuring a more immediate impact of previously funded EPSRC projects. Our proposal will deliver a complete proof-of-concept system whose performance and capability will be assessed in collaboration with Signify.

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